An exclusive New York country club fired its head squash coach after she made allegations that a staffer was raped by a ‘prominent member’ and other members were using the club to have rendezvous with prostitutes, a new lawsuit claims.
Natalie Grainger, 45, one of the most famous squash players in the world, says in the suit that a member of the club admitted to paying a female member of her staff ‘not for squash.’ That same worker said she had been raped by the member.
In the complaint, which was filed Wednesday at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Grainger said that instead of investigating the incidents, she was fired from her $145,000 per year job.
According to the suit, the club charges a $170,000 initiation fee and then yearly dues of $15,000. It’s known for its two championship golf courses and beach club along the Long Island Sound as well its ‘family orientated’ reputation.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are the club itself, Mark Christiana, the board president, and Tom Nevin, the former club manager, who is now the manager of a club in South Carolina.
Natalie Grainger was known as one of the top female squash players in the world and was ranked top in 2003
Board president Mark Christiana, left, is accused of asking for Grainger’s resignation after she came forward, while club COO, Tom Nevin, said they had ‘lost faith’ in her
Grainger says that as soon as she was hired in 2018, she learned that one of her ‘direct reports’ was having a sexual relationship with a member. The club’s by-laws forbid fraternizing between staff and members.
In 2021, she found out something similar involving a different member and a different squash coach. That member is referred to as being a ‘virtual fixture’ around the squash facility during that time.
Thanks to the affair, Grainger said that the staffer’s work performance suffered. She says the coach would not charge the member for her time spent with him while on the job.
A few months after discovering that affair, Grainger, a native of Manchester, England, said that she discovered a series of text messages that saw members post pictures of women that had picked out for ‘fun.’
The suit alleges that the women pictured in that thread were ‘sex workers.’ The text messages had been sent to a woman who worked for Grainger.
In the complaint, Grainger said that she sent an email to management complaining that: ‘At least one member engaged in ‘sexting’ – along with other members, including one bizarre instance a trail of messages showing pictures of three ‘call girls’ picked out by one of the members for that evening’s fun.’
A week after that email was sent, Christiana and Nevin ‘demanded Grainger resign’ because the had ‘lost faith’ in her.
When she resisted, the pair threatened to fire for her ’cause,’ Grainger alleges.
She shot back and alleged that the ’cause’ was because she ‘complained about serious issues of sexual harassment at the club.’
In recent years, the club has hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the US Women’s Amateur Open
Natalie Grainger in action during the World Masters Squash Championship at Hong Kong Football Club
At one point, Grainger said that an employee’s sister had contacted her and said she felt as though the woman had been drugged by a member of the club while at a bar. The lawsuit says Grainger ‘rushed over to [the employee’s] home to take care of her.’
It was a different employee who said that she was sexually assaulted by a different board member while at his home.
After making her concerns known to various board members, Grainger said that she was let go in March 2022.
Following her firing, a board member’s wife informed Grainger about another rape that occurred involving the employee whose sister had said she was drunk.
In a statement released through her attorneys, Grainger said that she was ‘shocked’ when she discovered the behavior and that she was fired because she ‘chose to stand up for myself and other women.’
‘I hope this lawsuit will help all who have endured this kind of discrimination and bring change to the culture at the WCC,’ Grainger also said.
The website for the club advertises its multiple golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, restaurants, private beach, squash courts and wedding facilities.
In recent years, the club has hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the US Women’s Amateur Open.
The Westchester Country Club charged $170,000 initiation fees and $15,000 in annual dues
The club is known for its multiple golf courses, tennis courts and wedding facilities
One long time member, NBC’s Emmy-award winning golf announcer Jimmy Roberts, told Westchester Magazine in 2022: ‘It’s grand. They just don’t make places like this anymore.’
‘There’s an intimacy about it, despite the size. It’s a club where you can get close to people,’ he added. Golfing legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Arnold Palmer have played on the courses.
‘The future of WCC is very bright. We continue to make investments in all areas of our facilities to meet the needs of current and future members,’ club president Mark Christiana said in the same article.
Grainger is known as one of the top female squash players in the world and was ranked number one in 2003. Despite being born in England, she went to high school in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has represented the United States in international squash.
She has been World Masters champion on three occasions was previously the president of the World Squash Association.
Grainger is asking for a jury trial to determine compensation in the case.